Ironychan Presents: ten animals that look like they’re supposed to be extinct and nobody told them (pictures mostly courtesy of Wikipedia).
THE OKAPI (Okapia johnstoni) - let’s start with the cuddly one. The Okapi is the nearest living relative of the giraffe. It is a shy, inoffensive animal that wanders around the African rainforest, completely unaware of the fact that it looks like a damned cave painting of itself.
THE CHINESE WATER DEER (Hydropotes inermis) - also relatively cuddly, as abominations of evolution go… but then you look at those teeth. Yes, ladies and gentlemen, this is a saber-toothed deer, and yes, it’s a 100% real animal and not something the Ice Age movies made up.
THE CASSOWARY (Casuarius casuarius) - all those books that assured you dinosaurs were extinct are full of lies. A cassowary is basically a shaggy velociraptor with the personality of a grizzly bear. They’ve been known to kick people to death with a real-life slashing claw on the inner toe of each foot - and to top it off, they’re approximately twice the size of the original velociraptor.
THE GIANT ISOPOD (Bathynomus giganteus) - here comes the freaky shit. The wikipedia link there will tell you that these are giant wood lice that eat carrion at the bottom of the sea. My theory is that they’re the ghosts of extinct trilobites and they’re plotting our downfall.
THE GIANT WETA (Deinacrida heteracantha) - an enormous primitive cricket that New Zealand came up with in an attempt to compete with Australia in the ‘mutant horrors’ category. That spine on its ass isn’t a sting - it’s an ovipositor. It uses that to make more giant wetas.
THE PANGOLIN (Manis pentadactyla) - kind of a cross between an anteater and a pine cone. This is actually a mammal and it eats mostly termites, despite having claws you could hang a slaughtered ox off of. They walk on their hind legs, just for the sake of throwing a little dinosaur into the mix.
THE HOATZIN (Opisthocomus hoazin) - a big bird that lives in South America and looks like it was invented by Dr. Seuss… until you look closely and discover that it has claws on its wings and it uses them to climb with. Much like the cassowary, the hoatzin is tired of being a bird and has decided it’s time to revert to dinosaur-hood and reclaim the planet.
THE GHARIAL (Gavialis gangeticus) - this fucker lives in rivers in India, quietly disguised as an ugly malnourished crocodile when anybody with eyes can clearly see it’s an undercover ichthyosaur. With warts. Look at that thing. Even the turtle is terrified of it.
THE TUATARA (Sphenodon punctatus) - although it resembles a lizard, the Tuatara is genetically unrelated to any living reptile and it has three eyes: two in the normal places and one in the top of its head. No, really. And they live basically forever, so personally I think these are the same ones that just stopped evolving sometime in the Carboniferous.
THE COELACANTH (Latimeria chalumnae) - now here I’m being quite literal: these things actually did go extinct millions of years ago and yet there were a few bastards who were asleep at their desks and didn’t get the memo that nature was downsizing. Thus they lurk in deep waters to this day, staring bug-eyed out at us to remind us that our nightmares can come true.
This is one of my all-time most popular shots of which was on display on National Geographic’s website (banner) for over a week, incorporated into a packaging design in the UK, and incorporated into a movie poster last year. The moral of this little tell, never give up on your passions in life, as you never know how far you can go until you try.
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The Gharial is undoubtedly the most bizarre looking crocodilian. Its very long, very slender snout is adapted to catch fish, as are the interlocking, needle-like teeth. Gharials are possibly the most aquatic of all crocodilians, and they have very short and weak legs; they actually only leave water to bask in the sun and to lay their eggs. This crocodilian is found in India and Nepal, and is among the largest members of the group, reaching 7 meters (23′) in length. Despite their huge size, they are usually harmless to humans; however, they can bite in self defense if provoked. Gharials get their name from the protuberance in the adult male’s snout, which is called a ghara. Gharials use the ghara to produce a sound which is supposed to attract potential mates.
It seems that males also use their ghara to produce bubbles with the same purpose. Some prehistoric crocodilians such as the enormous, dinosaur-eating Sarcosuchus also had a ghara. Who knows what amazing sounds they may have produced! Gharials are, themselves, the last survivors (along with false gharials) of a crocodilian group that was once widely distributed and diverse; remains of gharials and gharial-like crocodilians have been found even in South America! Unfortunately, the survival of the Gharial is, as usual, threatened by the advance of “civilization” and the loss of habitat. There are around 1500 gharials living in the wild nowadays, and the population seems to be declining due to water pollution with heavy metals.